TAMPA BAY - Officials from the Tampa Bay Lightning and the City of Oldsmar broke ground today on a new public outdoor street hockey rink, the Oldsmar Lightning Street Hockey Rink, presented by Heritage Insurance. The rink, located at the Oldsmar Sports Complex, will be one of 10 that will be constructed throughout the Bay Area as part of the Lightning's Build the Thunder 2.0 and Connect the Thunder program.
"We are very proud to continue our pledge to build 10 street hockey rinks across the Tampa Bay Area," Lightning CEO Steve Griggs said. "Having already distributed more than 100,000 hockey sticks and balls to local children through the first phase of the Build the Thunder program, it is imperative that we also provide them with elite-level facilities and programming with which they can continue playing and learning life skills through the great game of hockey. The Lightning would like to thank Mayor Seidel and City Manager Braithwaite for their unwavering enthusiasm and support in helping us make this a reality for the Oldsmar community."
"The City of Oldsmar is excited to be a part of such a fantastic facility that will create endless opportunities for the kids and adults in the community," said Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel. "Working with the Lightning organization has been outstanding, and their involvement will ensure world-class programming year-round at this wonderful new facility. We'd like to thank Steven and Jay, along with their community hockey team, for bringing the game of hockey to our community and providing a great place for kids to learn and play the game."
"The residents of Oldsmar can't wait to partner with the best organization in North American team sports, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the construction of the very first 'Lightning Made' outdoor hockey rink in Pinellas County," stated Oldsmar City Manager Al Braithwaite. "City employees and Council also can't wait to play again, this time on our own rink, after participating in the first Lightning Made Adult Ball Hockey League, recently held in Tampa. Welcome to Boltsmar!"
On October 25, 2017, the Lightning announced its plan to build 10 outdoor street hockey rinks across the five-county footprint of Tampa Bay by the year 2020. That included plans for a centralized Lightning Made Training Center which is already open at Power Pole Arena, Home of Xtra Ice in Tampa, that serves as the headquarters of the Lightning's Community Hockey Department. The Oldsmar rink will be the second local rink groundbreaking, with the initial one being held at Lakewood Ranch's Premiere Sports Campus.
These new rinks are designed to bring the game into local communities, allowing Tampa Bay's new young hockey players a place to train, whether it is at the grass roots level or in organized leagues and tournaments. The rinks are approximately 120 x 60 feet and include a full dasher-board system. Plans also include rinks in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk Counties.
In September of 2015, through the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players Association's (NHLPA) Industry Growth Fund, the Lightning announced a $6 million grass roots hockey development initiative to be delivered to young people in Tampa Bay. As part of the programming, the team, along with partner Chase, committed to distribute 100,000 street hockey sticks and balls to 3rd through 5th-grade students and offer more than 10,000 hours of progressive training for aspiring players.
The NHL and NHLPA have lauded the Lightning's community hockey development efforts under the guidance of 2004 Stanley Cup Champion general manager Jay Feaster, encouraging teams across the entire 31-team league to develop similar programing aimed at growing the game and its fan base at the grass roots level.